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Formation of Lake Joyce and Treasure Island

According to Attorney Jordan A. Pugh, legend has it that about 300 years ago, Blackbeard the Pirate, and his men cut a channel approx 500 feet long and 70 feet wide that transformed 2.5 acres of wilderness into Treasure Island, formerly a point of land jutting out into Lake Joyce. The dirt from this channel, still 4-6 feet deep despite the passing of nearly 3 centuries, was thrown up into a giant breastwork extending the entire length of the island. Blackbeard and his men used the height of this location to spy on merchant ships passing in the Bay from which he chose his victims.  Other notorious seafaring robbers, Maj. Steed Bonnett and Capt Worley may have also used this hideaway as their base of operations. This island, today is enriched instead with many varieties of trees and is home to raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, fox, and is a bird sanctuary with egrets, ducks, and ospreys. The lake is owned by the city and is held as a reserve water supply.

Lake Use Courtesies

Safety Rules & Procedures for Boating on Lake Joyce


USCG boating laws in Virginia Beach are governed by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and Virginia Beach City Municipal code.  Boater safety classes are taught in Norfolk at NOAA by the USCG & Virginia State; classes are also available on-line.  The following items are a summary of current law:




  1. Required PFD’s (Personal Flotation Devices) for all passengers (any size vessel) including waterskier plus one throwable device.

  2. All boats underway or adrift must show proper navigation lights (red, green and 360 degree white) from sunset to sunrise.  Paddleboats/rowboats/ canoes may use a flashlight shown vertically.

  3.  It is unlawful to sit on bow, gunwales, or transom while underway.

  4. There is no minimum age to operate a boat.

  5. Boats towing waterskiers, wakeboarders, etc. must have an observer or rearview mirror and skier wearing a PFD.

  6. Waterskiing is allowed from ½ hour prior to sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. (city code 6-118)

  7. Loud/foul language is unlawful.(city code 6-110)

  8. Boat operator is responsible for wake (city code 6-111).  (Canal is a no-wake area.)

  9. Reckless boating (i.e jumping from moving vessel, endangering others, etc.) is a Class I Misdemeanor. (City code 6-121)


Personal Watercraft (PWC)


The following are Class Four Misdemeanors:

  1. Must be 16 years old, or 14 and 15 with proof (on person) of successful completion of boater safety course.

  2. If equipped, must use engine cut-off lanyard.

  3. Within 50 feet of docks, people and other boats – idle speed only.


The following is a Class One Misdemeanor:

  • Reckless operation (ie. Weaving through boats, following too close, attempting to spray people on docks or other boats, chasing wildlife, etc.)


Additional Safety Procedures:


1.     Check boat and PWC for fuel.  Check tow line and stern anchors making sure they are free from damage and are firmly fastened.  Check ski and wakeboard bindings for any damage, missing fasteners and correct fit.


2.     When waterskiing, the travel pattern on Lake Joyce is in a counter-clockwise direction, keeping to the right (just like driving a car).


3.     Unless taking off or returning to your own dock, waterskiers and the boats towing them should try to stay 50-75 feet from the shore.


4.     Learn the areas which are shallow or contain other hazards such as stumps.


5.     Skiers & wakeboarders who fall should lift a ski or wave their arms to be more visible.


6.     When getting into or out of the water from a boat, make sure the engine is in neutral and that the point of entry is as far as possible from the propeller.   Better yet, turn the motor off completely until the person is in the boat or in the water well away from the propeller area.


7.     Do not tailgate other skiers. Stay well behind and offset from the wake of skiers ahead.  If you find you are overtaking a skier ahead, check for other boats and make a turn which will put your boat away from them.


8.     Never allow an inexperienced person or one unfamiliar with your boat to tow skiers.  Be sure everyone aboard is familiar with the rules on Lake Joyce.


9.     Use good judgment:

                        Don’t continue to ski when tired

                        Don’t pull beginning skiers too fast or in close areas

                        Don’t be on the lake before or during a storm where

                                        lightening is possible

                        Don’t dive headfirst into unfamiliar water

                        If boating conditions get crowded – take a break!


Waterskiing is great fun.  It is good for you physically, it sharpens your mind and challenges your skills. Enjoy it, but…


BE CAREFUL – don’t let your fun be spoiled by an avoidable accident.

BE COURTEOUS – don’t let your fun be the source of someone else’s annoyance.

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